5 Steps to Conducting Competitive Intelligence

August 6, 2015 Merrie Beth Salazar

Last week, we shared some steps for identifying all your business’s competitors — not just the obvious ones.

Are you ready to take a deep dive into that competitive landscape and develop a marketing strategy that will ensure your business stands out?

Competitive analysis has received greater attention recently for several reasons. Businesses of all sizes are facing more intense competition from sophisticated competitors, dealing with shorter product life cycles, and struggling to respond to dynamic environments, particularly in the area of technological innovation.

A growing number of companies have adopted formalized methods of identifying competitors, tracking their activities, and assessing their strengths and weaknesses — a process referred to as competitive intelligence. Here’s a thoughtful way to approach gathering your own competitive intelligence1

1. Identification. Identify all your current and potential brand, product, generic and total budget competitors. (See this post if you need help pinpointing these four types of competitors.) 

2. Characteristics. Focus on your key competitors by assessing the size, growth, profitability, objectives, strategies and target markets of each one.

3. Assessment. Assess each key competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, including the major capabilities and vulnerabilities that each possesses within its functional areas (marketing, research and development, production, human resources and so on).

4. Capabilities. Focus this analysis on each key competitor’s marketing capabilities in terms of its products, distribution, promotion and pricing.

5. Response. Estimate each key competitor’s most likely strategies and responses under a variety of environmental situations, as well as its reactions to your company’s marketing efforts.

Where can you gather this information? A competitor’s mission statement, website and marketing materials can tell you a lot about their positioning. Sites such as www.moat.com enable you to search for all of a particular competitor’s online advertising in one place.  Press releases, articles and blogs mentioning your competition can reveal information about their strengths, weaknesses and future plans. And, of course, a great advertising partner can provide valuable insights using custom data you can’t get anywhere else. 

Gathering competitive intelligence is an ongoing process. Be sure to keep your analysis up to date so you will always be one step ahead of changes in the business landscape. 

Check out our brief, Stand Out & Get Noticed, to make sure you’re doing everything you can to stand out from your competition in the online space.

[1] Source for marketing strategy ideas: Ferrell, O. C.; Hartline, Michael (2012-12-20). Marketing Strategy. Cengage Textbook. Kindle Edition.

About the Author

Merrie Beth Salazar

Merrie Beth Salazar is a marketing professional experienced in leading teams and projects to measurable success. With a background in research and storytelling, she looks for the untold insights behind marketing campaigns and brings them to life.

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